One of the Last Great British Adventures…….
It seemed to take forever to reach Porth Dafarch on the Isle of Anglesey. We had spent the night paddling across Cardigan Bay being drawn to the intermittent beam from the lighthouse on Bardsey.
Once we passed the Llyn Peninsula it felt like we were in touching distance of Anglesey, but the reality was that we had about another 8 hours of paddling. I remember shouting out loud “this is so cruel” because every time I looked to the skyline, the detail of the coastline had less clarity and not more.
Although shorter than our record-breaking kayak from Land’s End, for me this second paddle (85 nautical miles/157 km) seemed to take longer. Throughout the 24 hour crossing we would kayak for 55 minutes then stop for a strict 5 mins to eat, drink and if needed, go to the loo. Ian kept a tally of how many times we were peeing to make sure we were hydrated. We were able to maintain a speed of 3.6 knots (including breaks) and every 4 hours we would take a longer 20 minute break to enable us to eat something a bit more substantial (noodles, soup, dehydrated meals).
As we paddled northwards I listened to the fantastic I am Kloot album on my phone, then my battery died. “Oh dear, no more musical motivation”, all I could do then was rely on the stuff in my head. Fortunately as a team we’re pretty good at playing silly games, for example naming a make of car for every letter of the alphabet.
At different times, one of us would struggle with the lack of sleep and we would raft up to take a rest, close our eyes for a few minutes and get paddling again.
Unfortunately, for this crossing I had chosen the wrong clothing. Before each paddle we debated the pros and cons of every different item; dry suits vs separates vs fleecy leggings. Basically, would we rather be too hot or too cold? I should know by now that I prefer to be too cold, but the wind funneling into Porthgain harbour when we left made me think that it would be a chilly night. It wasn’t, I felt like a roast chicken as we approached the Anglesey coast and I kept filling my baseball cap with water to throw over my head to keep me cool.
We knew that as we approached Adam’s home patch there would be a few supporters to welcome us in but we had no idea what a spectacular welcome awaited us. Anne (Adam’s girlfriend) had arranged for lots of local sea kayakers to join us on the water and paddle into Porth Dafarch. It had a carnival feel to it and the sea was a spectacular blue. The first to meet us in his custom-made Rockwall sea kayak was expert sea kayaker John Willesey. His eagle eye had spotted us from the shore and he paddled out to greet us. I felt quite overwhelmed by the support we received and there were even a few swimmers who dived from the rocks to join the procession. Thanks to everyone who came out to support us and thanks for the tasty cakes a flapjacks.
On the beach were our support team, friends, family and passers by who were intrigued and excited to see four tired but elated paddlers. I managed to get out of my kayak and with somewhat wobbly legs began to sway. I needed to hold onto someone in case I fell over. The second sea kayak leg was complete and it felt incredibly satisfying to have reached north Wales by human power alone (with a little wind assistance!).
The last few days we have been resting, sorting kit and today the team have been out and about in Caernarfon holding bucket collections in aid of BLESMA. We also met a few high profile people from the sporting world including Team Sky’s Dave Brailsford. And our Bastion Baton crossed paths with the Queen’s Baton at the Beacon Climbing Centre.
We are now preparing for the next leg of our journey, a sea kayak crossing to the Isle of Man. I’ll be sad to wave goodbye to the shores of Wales. Our stay on Anglesey has been made extra special by the support we have received from local businesses.
The Beeline Britain team would like to give special mention to:
Anglesey Outdoors – for providing a fantastic base for the team to shower, eat, wash kit and get those all important sports massages after our arrival at Porth Dafarch. A must-stay location for sea kayakers heading to north Wales.
Indefatigable Joint Services Outdoor Training Centre – for accommodating the team while we wait for suitable weather conditions for the Isle of Man crossing. Mary you have been fantastic!
Our fundraising total currently stands at £7,698 and donations can be made online at www.justgiving.com/beelinebritain
Blog post by Tori James